Those of you who are looking for the fastest single GPU card in the world need look no further. Today saw the launch of Gigabyte’s range-topping N480 SOC (Super OverClock) edition which is the fastest production single GPU card on the market.
Many of you will be thinking this will just be another GTX 480 graphics card with a fancy cooler on top and a modest overclock. But that is not the case. Gigabyte has taken things to the next level to ensure that their card is the first choice of the most serious overclockers across the globe.
The most eagle-eyed of our readers will have spotted something a little out of the ordinary in the picture of this card above that you’re unlikely to see anywhere else. The N480 SOC actually has two BIOSes, one standard profile and one for extreme overclocking – appropriately named ‘LN2’. Pressing the Clear CMOS button in the bottom corner of the card switches between these, meaning that you never have to flash the BIOS.
Although Gigabyte have set a maximum limit of 1.4V (from the standard 1.05V) through the GPU, they will be releasing an exclusive version of the BIOS which is completely unlocked and allows up to 1.6V for world record attempts. To get this BIOS, ‘professional overclockers’ will need to make a special written application (which doubles as a ‘we accept the death of the card as an occupational hazard’ disclaimer – cool!).
Gigabyte also claim to have the world’s number one cherry-picking process for selecting the best possible GPUs for their SOC cards which they have named ‘GPU Gauntlet’. This process examines the GPUs capability in various areas such as power efficiency using FurMark and 3DMark Vantage.
To ensure the best overclocking results, Gigabyte surround their cherry-picked chips with high-quality components. For example, they use five of NEC’s finest Proadilizers (think mega-butter-capacitor) which are said to deliver 1.6x purer power than a traditional power design. These are neat little buggers and you can read more about them here. We’re thinking ‘Dolby for your voltage’.
Many enthusiasts favor MSI’s AfterBurner utility for overclocking their GPUs but Gigabyte provide an even more feature-packed utility to let their customers squeeze even more performance out of their graphics card named ‘OC Guru’ (no relation to KitGuru!).
It does this by allowing users to alter memory voltage through the software, alongside GPU voltage and clocks. It also allows you to switch between overclocking profiles using designated hotkeys and even configure a special ‘green’ profile to save you some electricity.
Gigabyte have one final trick up their sleeve for the N480 SOC – how they cool the beast.
It uses their Windforce 3x cooler which is very advanced in design, featuring a vapor chamber and three PWM fans. These fans are inclined at different angles to reduce turbulene and increase airflow. This is around 18% cooler than a stock cooler and is also significantly quieter.
Pricing hasn’t been confirmed yet but they should be on the shelves around mid-October. One last thing: nVidia’s Ben Berraondo was on hand to point out the finer points of the GPU’s design and was also overheard confirming that a massive slew of games, coming out over the next 6 months, means that the balance of power will shift their way. Interesting times – we’re all looking forward to a second Crysis now.
KitGuru says: Graphcis is a fluid game. Ever changing technologies and processes are constantly being developed by the various board partners. Over the past 3 years, Gigabyte has created a very strong name for its mainboards. Now it seems that they will push a similar amount of effort into graphics. Launching the fastest card in the world plants a serious marker and, as far as KitGuru’s concerned, is a great statement of intent. More power to their Proadilizers!